India's Supreme Court has given popular Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt more time to finish films before he goes to prison for a 1993 weapons conviction linked to a deadly terror attack.

Dutt, who was supposed to surrender on Thursday, had appealed to the court that he needed six months to complete his pending film commitments. The court on Wednesday ordered the deadline extended by four weeks.

Last month, the top court sentenced Dutt to five years in prison for illegal possession of weapons supplied by underworld mafia bosses linked to the terror attack that killed 257 people in the commercial city of Mumbai.

The actor has maintained that he knew nothing about the bombing plot and that he asked for the guns to protect his family during sectarian riots in the city.

The actor has been on bail since 2007 when he appealed against an original sentence of six years for the illegal possession of weapons.

Dutt had already spent 18 months in prison before being released on bail, so he is expected to serve another 3.5 years.

He was the most high-profile of 100 people involved in the Mumbai bombings trial which ended with 12 people receiving the death penalty and 20 others given life sentences.

Cleared of conspiracy charges

In 2007, he was cleared of conspiracy charges in the attacks but found guilty of illegal possession of an AK-56 rifle and a pistol.

The court's five-year sentence handed down last month prompted a debate on whether the actor was judged too harshly, with many in the Bollywood film industry and Press Council of India chief Markandey Katju calling for him to be pardoned.

Dutt has four films pending worth more than 2.5 billion rupees ($46m).

Popular for his role as a do-good gangster in the "Munnabhai" films, Dutt had requested last month the media and well-wishers to leave him "in peace" in his final days before returning to prison.

"I have a lot of work, I have to finish all that work. I have to spend all this time with my family, so I, with folded hands, tell you all that just let me be in peace till the time I go in," he had said.

Source: Agencies